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Amina Jordan - Pre-clinical Observation in Mexico

Published: Monday, 27 Jun 2016
Author: Cheryl Ann Benner
Department: Office for Education Abroad

Name: Amina Jordan

Status: Senior

Major: Psychology

Hometown: Detroit, MI

Program: Pre-clinical Observation in Mexico


This May I had the pleasure to visit Merida, Yucatán, Mexico. I was able to take part in an amazing opportunity to enhance my knowledge, cultural outlook, and practices in the Medical field. I was very amazed at the many differences that Mexico possess. For a continuous week I had early mornings and long days of an aspiration that will soon become a reality. In addition, this life changing experience left a perpetual impression on my fifteen peers and myself.


Sunday morning I was anxious to get right to business after hearing the schedule and being able to sport my first white coat.  Unfortunately, we went on tour of one of the worlds must see Uxmal of the Maya Ruins. I learned a lot about the worship and the hospitality of the Mayan population that helps make up the Yucatan ancestry.  Another thing I experienced was the elevation of the temples that housed the royal court and upper class. There was also talk about the Chuck God that inspired the detail patterns that uniquely classifies these particular ruins. On this normal hot day I was exhausted from the sun but I enjoyed every bit of it glistening on my skin.


The very next day we split into 4 groups and made our rounds to our designated health care facilities. Hospital Regional Alta de Especialidad is the federal hospital which is at the top of the hierarchy as explained by our coordinators Fabiola and Regina. It was huge, even bigger than Detroit's very own Henry Ford DMC.  Inside we were introduced to the chief of surgery, (which was surprisingly a woman) and were sent to gear up for the OR.  I had never been in an OR and neither had the both of my peers. It was clear that one of the most important aspects of surgery was hygiene, likewise in the US.


Nervously, we walked into an open heart surgery not knowing what to expect.  As we stood against the wall watching the surgical team of anesthesiologist, nurses and assistants set up everything from IV's to tracheotomy a very nice physician educated us on exactly what was going on.  He even allowed us to get closer and surround the two surgeons to witness what we now knew was the aortic valve being removed and replaced by a biological valve made from animal tissue.  Throughout the process there was this machine that was pumping blood back and forth into the patient's body. Basically, it carried out the function of the heart because it was stopped to perform the meticulous operation. I walked out into reality that I literally witnessed a valve replacement from prep to finish. That is something I would have had a slim chance of witnessing with little maturity in the medical field as a U.S. citizen. How cool is that? You might ask. Well it only got better as the days went on.


Day 2, was more than surgery at Hospital General Augustin O'horán. Likewise we were introduced to the staff and even given a tour.  This facilities environment, activity and patients were very different from the US and even the federal hospital.  My group and I had begun to notice that the hospital was over populated with patients.  There were not enough rooms to occupy numerous patients so they were lined up in the hallway. We talked to a few patients to ask how long they had been in the hospital.  We heard a variety of responses 3-10 days. Some have not even moved from the hallway or have been tested or diagnosed with a problem.  In that case O'horán hygiene was not compatible with the US. However, most of O'horan patients were holders of a basic health insurance, which is comparable to Michigan's Medicaid and Medicare.  The insurance company is currently in debt which I thought was very traumatic. Another issue was nutrition, we observed a variety of food tray choices, that all were mainly made up of carbs and sugars.  It drew a concern for a population that is extremely high in obesity and diabetes. A solution would be to build a larger/another facility compatible with their population.


At Secretaria de Salud, a clinic for the general public and pediatric. I had the honor of shadowing a physician that allowed me to be very hands on in assessing patients. Needless to say it was awesome!  In her room there was a nurse who took vitals and asked simple questions to figure out the reason for the visit much like in the U.S. It was very rewarding to see her interact, diagnose, inform and resolve the issue at hand. There were several patients who came into her office that had infections.  She taught me a couple basic ways to locate symptoms of oral and intestinal infections. Ironically a lot of her patients had an infection of some sort. I left there feeling more connected to the medical field because I was able to witness the both cause and the outcome.  At most, I want to pursue medicine to create positive outcomes to hopeless situations a number of her patients were adolescents and I enjoyed their company. As an aspiring psychiatrist I have strong tendencies for child development.


Day 4, my group and I had unforgettable experience to witness live of births at Hospital Materno Infantil.  It was so exciting to see the new mother's huge grins when meeting their child for the first time.  May favorite part about the labor process was listening to a live heartbeat and deciding exactly where the baby was positioned.  We viewed multiple natural births and caesarean sections.  A lot of the tactics used for a see section were classical compared to the U.S., such as where and how they made the incision.  The natural births were more similar except in the U.S the mother is cut proceeding dilation instead of naturally ripping. Overall I was a little grossed out at both processes because of the placenta and excess waste. However, the burst of joy that came from it was rewarding.  After the baby had been delivered it was rushed to get cleaned and a serious of physical test mostly for reflexes and vitals.  Soon both the mom and child were reunited.  In that moment I observed, a big difference, the absence of family members and significant others because of limited spacing.


Furthermore, each day we attended informational lectures to better connect us to the Mexican medial field.  It was actually brought to my attention that a lot of the surgeons and physicians that we observed in the OR's were medical students completing residency.  Also, they do not have an undergraduate program, normally, they take a couple general courses and apply right after they are finished. We visited two universities UADY and Mayab. At the Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán, (UADY) Medical School we were given the history, mission pf the organization and information about admission into the university. Unfortunately, they do not accept international students because of the high demand of native applicants.  On average, 3,000 apply and only 185 are accepted. At the Anahuac Mayab University we had a great time exploring the different simulators that were to depict real life health care situations.  That is also where we were taught how to conduct CPR, Phlebotomy, and Tracheotomy on dummies.  Mayab's education process was really unique because of its modern approach.


Lastly, Dr. Emillo's psychology encouraged me to keep going as I am a psychology major. I had the opportunity to brush up on psychological theories and methods that he demonstrated.  A fun fact that I learned was that females have a faster reaction time than males because of the structure not function of the nervous system signals. Dr. Donahue also gave insight about an underestimated process of medicine called Osteopathic Medicine that focuses on the body as a unit and the person as a unit of body mind and spirit.  It was very interesting to know that D.O.'s who study osteopathy are appreciated and have been adapted just like those who earn a degree studying human medicine.  Furthermore, I met a goal and set another to keep going and take part in research and experience as much as I can. I was inspired by actually seeing and being a part of the system that is working for a common good.  In the future, I want to go and visit countries that have a lack of physicians or that are over populated to offer my psychiatric services for a couple months out of the year.  I was also encouraged to do a residency internationally because of the relationships I built in Yucatan. All in all, I have more gratitude for the medical field and its staff than ever before and I am extremely overwhelmed with joy that I took part in this amazing experience. Mostly, I am staggered by the number of peers I inspired to take advantage of the many international opportunities MSU has to offer.